Chuck Byrd is a Grip/Lighting Technician working in the Nashville, Tennessee area. He has spent the past few years assembling his own grip truck and working on films and television commercials. His film credits include Class of 91 and Flowers for Fannie and he will soon be working on The Good Book.
First, introduce yourself as a filmmaker.
I am originally from Southern California, and have been in Nashville, TN area since 2008. I have been in the Film industry for over 10 years, doing everything from re-writing TV show scripts for the Trinity Broadcasting Network and for the show Focus On Israel, to being a dolly grip on TV commercials and films… Oh yeah, and doing Grip/Lighting work too!
When did you first decide that you wanted to work on film sets?
I have always enjoyed shooting home video skits with my brother since I was a teenager. It wasn’t till I was about 22 years old and working at a crummy recycling job, that I really started to wonder what I wanted to do for a career. I made a list and prayerfully narrowed what I wanted to do down to video work.
What training have you had?
I attended Collins College in Arizona and earned an Associate of Arts (AA) degree in Media Arts. Most of my training has been on the job for the last 10 years.
What films have you been a part of?
I have been a part of a number of 168 Hour Film Challenge short film projects such as Joy in the Mourning. My first feature film (in the Grip/Lighting Dept.) was working with Fred and Sharon Wilharm on Class of 91. I have since worked on Flowers For Fannie (Grip/Lighting), and on The Identical as an Extra.
What is your favorite part of working on a set?
I love both the technical and artistic sides to the film set. I really enjoy getting the lighting dialed in just right especially for dramatic scenes. I also love visualizing scenes and figuring out how to shoot them (e.g. which angles, whether to do a close up, where to add a cut away). I’ve always been interested in the Director of Photography job.
What led to your interest in lighting?
Working at TBN, and doing various film shoots, I had been intrigued by the way you can communicate so much through the way the scenes in a film are lit. Proper lighting is truly a science as well as an art.
How did you get the idea for having your own grip truck?
I was talking to a friend of mine at TBN one day, and he was telling me about how he knew a guy who did grip work at TBN that went on to get his own Grip and lighting truck. It wasn’t till then that I realized that I wanted to do the same.
Tell us about the process of getting your light truck ready for business.
I try to determine what the grip & lighting needs for the location of the shoot is, by talking to the Director. I go through and do an equipment check and test to make sure everything is there and it’s all is in working order. I do not have to load the truck because I always keep all my gear in the truck. If the shoot needs something more than expected I have it ready with me to use and I only charge for the extra items if they are used on the shoot. I make sure I have plenty of water in my big cooler, especially in the summer time then it’s hot.
I want to collaborate on film projects with other Christian filmmakers to produce godly, encouraging, exhortational and evangelistic films. I hope to eventually produce my own films as well as the films of others.
Script-writing is something else I really enjoy. If only I had more time…!